Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Creationism and dinosaurs

I had read in the local paper a blurb about the fact that the Creation Museum had dinosaurs in it and that they even put dinosaurs on Noah's ark. So of course I had to go check out the Creation Museum's website to see if this was true and in fact they do have dinosaurs. According to their website (which I will not link to as I believe the creation museum is just bad science), Come face-to-face with a sauropod, a dinosaur of incredible dimensions. His monstrous frame moves through the low-lying thicket as he grazes on plants. Introduce yourself to our chameleons. Examine bones, a clutch of eggs from a dinosaur, an exceptional fossil collection, and a mineral collection. This intrigued me even more, how did they explain that they had dinosaurs when fossil evidence shows that dinosaurs lived long before man did? This is the answer they give in their FAQ section (I am transposing it exactly because, one, it makes me laugh and two, there are some direct statements that I have to comment on).

According to evolutionists, the dinosaurs ‘ruled the Earth’ for 140 million years, dying out about 65 million years ago. However, scientists do not dig up anything labeled with those ages. They only uncover dead dinosaurs (i.e., their bones), and their bones do not have labels attached telling how old they are. The idea of millions of years of evolution is just the evolutionists’ story about the past. No scientist was there to see the dinosaurs live through this supposed dinosaur age. In fact, there is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist observed dinosaurs die. Scientists only find the bones in the here and now, and because many of them are evolutionists, they try to fit the story of the dinosaurs into their view.

The museum then explains that we find fossils because when God had the great flood upon which Noah built his ark (and yes there were dinosaurs on the ark) those that were not on the ark drowned and gave us this fossil layer.

Now lets go back a bit to the museums explanation of evolutionists and how they are wrong about dinosaurs. First, they argue that there were no scientists around when the dinosaurs died and so they did not witness it, so they cannot know when dinosaurs existed. Hmmmmmmm...yeah well if you are saying that dinosaurs existed alongside man in the Garden of Eden and even were on Noah's ark then wouldn't it stand that people would have been around and could have documented when dinosaurs became extinct. Secondly, they argue that evolutionary scientists are guessing at the age of the fossils as they do not have labels on them. Hmmmmm...so I am guessing then that the creationists wants the bones to come out of the ground with a little paper label tied or stuck onto the bones to tell them what year they were buried. Now I am just guessing here, but when an animal dies there is not really anyone to label their grave. For instance when a squirrel dies out in the wild, the other squirrels do not have a big funeral, buy a casket and then engrave on it the years of the life for the squirrel. I am sorry, but in nature that just does not happen, so no there are no labels.

So, I know what you are thinking no labels proves the creationists are right, without labels we cannot accurately tell when an animal has died. Nope sorry that is wrong, there is a way of knowing the age of a bone, it is called carbon dating. I am no scientists and so even after reading the entry on Wikipedia among a few other sites, I am not sure I totally understand carbon dating better than what I remember from high school and my freshman year of college, so anyone please correct me if I am explaining this wrong. As I understand it, carbon is given off by all living things and as the living thing decays the carbon changes from carbon-12 to carbon-14 at a predictable rate. So by measuring the amount of carbon-12 to carbon-14 we are able to have a good idea of when a fossil was buried. So, using this method we are able to determine that the dinosaurs lived over 65 million years ago, not the 6000 years or less ago the creationists suspect.

Finally, as this post has gotten kind of long, there is a question that says asks, could we see a dinosaur now? Their answer is that it is highly unlikely, but that some people suspect that there are dinosaurs hiding in remote places. I am guessing they are thinking of the Loch Ness monster or something like that. I have to end with a great song by Roy Zimmerman.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Geek Love part 1-cult versus religion

I am currently reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn and it has inspired several different posts that will occur over the next few days, I suspect. This is the first one. In the story, one of the characters, Arturo, develops a cult following around him. This cult is made up of people who amputate parts of their body in a hierarchical order starting with fingers and toes progressing to limbs and the final step becomes a lobotomy. Oh, I guess I should mention that Arturo is the Aqua Boy and has no limbs. So anyway, I got to thinking at what point does a cult become a religion. As defined by Websters a cult is, a system of religious beliefs and ritual. A religion is, a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. These definitions sound awfully similar to me. And didn't most religions have to start off as a cult, the cult of Jesus became Christianity, the cult of Mohammed became Islam and the cult of Abraham became Judaism. Even looking at Eastern religion the cult of Sidhartha Gautama becomes Buddhism. We can even look at more modern forms of this such as Mormonism which seems at least initially to be a cult of Joseph Smith. Although this would seem to also be a different way of reading the Christian text as well, if I understand Mormonism which I may not. So, how many people constitute a religion versus a cult? How long does a cult have to exist before it becomes a religion?

I think of two different philosophies that I am sure most people do not consider a religion, Hare Krishna and Scientology, and yet how are they that different from a religion? According to Websters, again, Hare Krishna is a group of people dedicated to the worship of the Hindu god Krishna. According to Wikipedia (because Scientology was not in the Websters online dictionary) the Church of Scientology says that Scientology is concerned with "the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life I am not arguing that either Scientology nor Hare Krishna are religions, merely the opposite, all religions are merely cults that have in some way gained acceptance in society. So I come back to the question, what is the difference and I guess the difference is another definition for cults that Websters lists, this one says that the belief are considered unusual within society. So as a society we determine what is a cult and what is a religion. So, I have decided that fundamentalists of all stripes Christian, Moslem and Jewish are now cults and should no longer be taken seriously by their mainstream counterparts.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Did ya know?

Did ya know there is a World Series of Video Games? I discovered this while waiting for an oil change. Not only is there a World Series, but apparently CBS is televising it. Now I understand that there are many people who like to play video games and that there is even some skill, maybe, in being able to play some of these games well, but I am not sure there needs to be a World Series and I don't think it needs to be televised. I like to play games sometimes and when you are playing it is a lot of fun and even addicting, but watching someone else play has never seemed that interesting to me. Maybe I am too old, but I am not even sure about that as I am part of the generation that grew up on Nintendo and all of the video game systems. I just don't understand.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Movie Review- Smoke signals

I watched Smoke Signals tonight. I had never heard of it, but found it on Blockbuster and put it in my queue. And even when they sent it to me, I had no idea what this movie was about, I had to look it up again to remeber it. Well, I am glad that I put it in my queue. It was an amazing film about two Native Americans and their different perceptions of the same man, one of the young men's father. They end up traveling together to get the father's ashes after he dies and they discover that there was more to this man than either realized. It is just a great story and movie. The satire surrounding the stereotypical way in which Native Americans are portrayed in films strengthens the film and allows people to see past the stereotypes. It has the distinction of being the first feature film with a Native American crew and creative team. The movie is based upon a book by Sherman Alexie, The Loneranger and Tonto fistfight in Heaven. I think I have heard of the book before and now after seeing this movie, I definitely want to read the book. This film was also not hurt by the appearance of the absolutely stunning Irene Bedard.

This movie also made me think about how people can be perceived in so many ways. I was thinking specifically of our parents. The rest of the world does not see the imperfections that you see in your family and yet they also do not see the great things about your family. My father, for instance, can be very moody and surly at times, and yet most people who see only the public image of my father know him as a charming and fun person to be around. But they also don't know that when he gets around his brothers they can go on these tangents with puns that will last for hours. Only we know our parents in those ways and yet I am not sure that we ever truly know our parents until we talk to someone outside the family who knows them in another situation. We only see what we want to see and need to have our eyes opened to the fact that our parents are humans too with faults and strengths. This is especially true when we are younger, but yet even as I grow older I continue to learn about my parents and I have known them my whole life.

Friday, July 27, 2007

YouTube Fridays

I saw this and felt that it needed to be put out there, I am sure others have seen this before, but I hadn't noticed it anywhere. It is a compilation of the comments made on Faux News attacking bloggers.

And on a lighter note... I am posting this Roy Zimmerman although I could have posted most any of his songs.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why I love my job part 2

I was having a pretty shitty morning and even the night before had been rough. My dog, the boxer which is the blog is for, attacked another smaller dog the night before. He had never done this before so I was a bit shaken. So anyway, children are awesome for me at least when I need to refocus on life. There is nothing that works better for me than have a child come up to me, say hi and then just crawl into my lap and just sit there. They did not talk to me, they did not ask me what was wrong, I become just a seat to them. I had already talked to a good friend about what had happened so I had the adult perspective and we had talked about what I should do, but sometimes what I need is just someone to not talk, but just be there. That is why I love working with young children, they know if something is wrong and yet they do not need to talk about things. Also, it helps put things in perspective when you see the issues they are having and altough sometimes as adults we have very serious issues, the seriousness of the issue is always subjective. To a child, they fact that their friend is playing with the car they want is a huge issue and one that they will fight for and cry about, but really how much difference is that than my dog, who had few bad minutes, but generally is a great dog. I am not sure that this totally makes sense to anyone other than me especially if you do not like or work with kids hence the difficulty in realizing the wisdom and incredibleness of kids, but I guess that is why I teach.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter Review

I finished the seventh and final Harry Potter book this weekend and I have finally gotten around to writing up my thoughts on it. I am not going to include any spoilers in case someone is reading this and has not read it yet and will read, I do not want to ruin it for you. I read it is two days, mostly Sunday, which is really unusual to me and I didn't even think it was super compelling or anything, I just wanted to get it done so that I knew how it would end. It was relatively predictable in the end, I kind of knew how it would end, but there were several plot twists that you didn't necessarily expect. It did have some interesting character backgrounds of people you thought you knew and you found out were not as wholesome as you expected. You also found out that not everyone who was evil was as evil as you maybe expected. Also, I felt like Voldemort was not as intimidating in this book. There was a lot that happened through basic government bureaucracy with regards to Voldemort and his attempt to take over the world. But the biggest surprise throughout the entire book was the use of the the word "bitch" toward the end of the book. It seemed interesting that this word was used in what is essentially a book for children or young teens. It makes me think of the fact that in another book for kids "Park's Quest" by Katherine Patterson (who also wrote Bridge to Terebithia) the word "shit" is used. In both cases the words seem to fit the situation perfectly, but is there a fallout from the public and parents when they see this word in print and think about their children reading it? I hope not and that parents realize that their children will hear this word and that this is a good opportunity to talk about why this word is not necessarily appropriate in most situations. But as used here and in "Park's Quest", the cuss words were used in situations that you would expect them to be used. In Harry Potter it is by an mother when she realizes her child is being attacked and she yells at the attacker, another adult witch.

So overall, the seventh book was good, the ending was a bit predictable and the epilogue does tie things up in a nice neat little package, but a fine nding to what has been a 10 year quest.

Why I love my job

So as I am sure I have mentioned before I teach preschool children. This can be so fun and as there used to be a show called "Kids Say the Darndest Things" I can count on there being a moment like this almost everyday. Todays moment was this conversation:
Kid 1: I am going to be a pirate when I go outside.
Kid 2: I am going to be a booty pirate when I go outside.
Me: What is a booty pirate?
Kid 2: I don't know.
Me: How about we be either good pirates or bad pirates?
Kid 2: Nope, I am going to be a booty pirate.
Now what is a booty pirate, I ask? I guess I should ask Cap'n Dyke, maybe she knows and then again maybe not.

Or what about this conversation.
Father: Your cat has a brown tale. (the child had colored a cat with an orange body and a brown tale)
Kid: Yeah, he pooped himself.

Ok so we all know that kids say wild things, but the real surprise for me was the number of times that I have to say things I never thought I would ever have to say to a child. I have often said that one day I am going to write a book, but since I rarely remeber to write them down and well my literary skills are limited, I thought I would just post them here as I come across them. Today's, "things I never thought I would say as a teacher", are actually from the past few years;

- Take the chalk out of your ears.
- Stop painting your arms. (this can also go for face, hair, legs or friends)
- Stop eating the cereal off the floor. (this can also go for chicken nuggets, tater tots, fries, and spaghetti)
- Stop licking the milk from the floor/table.
- Stop dancing on the table.
- Don't lick the mustard off the scissors.
- Don't lick the scissor. (this is a separate instance than the previous one)
- Stop eating your snot.
- Don't eat the paint.
- Do not lick your friends face.
- Stop barking at him/her you are scaring them.
- Take the vacuum (yes a real vacuum) off of your friends.
- Don't eat the chalk.
- Don't eat the mulch.
- Take your head out of the toilet.
- Take your foot/shoes out of the toilet.
- Don't wipe the poop on the walls anymore.

I work with 4 and 5 year olds, some of this stuff would seem to be common sense, but I guess it isn't. That is all for today in the this installment of "Things I never thought I would say as a teacher".

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dystopia the novel

So I was reading Monkey Muck yesterday and he had this great post about dystopian films, and while I do like most dystopian films, I love dystopian novels. I know I am not getting all of the novels about dystopias as I am sure there are many that I have not yet read or have not even heard of yet, but still here is my list of favorite dystopian novels.

First is the Handmaids Tale. I just recently read this one, like a few months ago and really liked it. This book is especially great as it has a real focus on the control of women especially sexually. I am not advocating this, but considering what the fundies want to do to limit sexual reproductive rights of women, it seems to really hit home. It is one of those books that seems like it could come so true and makes me want to read more Atwood books, but I have heard the other novels by her are not quite as good.

Next is Brave New World. This was my favorite dystopian novel prior to The Handmaids Tale. It is such a good and interesting story. Again we have reproduction being controlled, but in a different way than in The Handmaids Tale. This one also seems like it could happen although the technology would need to improve first.

Then is 1984. Many people seem to think that this one is very likely and I agree. We already have Big Brother watching us when Bushie and Co. have us wiretapped.

I am not sure if most people would consider this a dystopian novel, but I do. It seems to be happening as we watch more and more TV and movies and read less and less. As books are still being printed and in seeing the reaction to the release of the newest Harry Potter book (which I will review in a later post), I am not sure that books are really in danger of being burned today, but it still seems to be a bit of a scary prospect to someone like me who loves to read all kinds of books.

There are several other books or stories that I want to mention here, that I have not read yet so I cannot comment on. First, The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas, which is a short story that as I understand is supposed to be dystopian in nature. I do have the book that has this short story in it and I intend to read it soon, but I am in the middle of another book and I want to get through that first. Clockwork Orange, which I own, but have never been able to get through, since it is mentioned in Monkey's post as a dystopian film, than I would guess the book is also dystopian in nature. The other book that I understand is dystopian is Stephen King's The Stand. This is another book that I intend to purchase soon and then will read and be able to judge how dystopian it really is.

There are many other books that I am sure are considered dystopian in nature. In fact I just looked up a list of dystopian literature on Wikipedia and it is a huge list. I have truly not even started to read a lot of dystopian novels. But the article also acknowledges that it is difficult to define a dystopian novel and that this may be a bit controversial at times. There are two points about this list as I looked over it. First, they list Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies as dystopian novels. I don't really agree with either, Animal Farm seemed to be more of a commentary on the Marxists ideas of governace and Lord of Flies, I would think is either a social commentary or possibly a religious parable, but not really dystopian in my mind. Second, many of these novels seem to be based in Science Fiction. Sci Fi can be an integral part of a dystopian novel, such as in Brave New World, but I wonder if these novels truly are dystopian in nature or just Sci Fi that are being given another label so that more people read them and they seem more intellectual. I am not attacking Sci Fi novels, but commenting that just because a book takes place in another culture or governance system that is different does not automatically make it a dystopian novel.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It is just a game

The Boston Redsox are on ESPN tonight and Jon Lester is the starting pitcher. Lester has not pitched on the major league level in almost a year. Why you may ask is this important, that a pitcher who has not pitched in a long time is back in the major leagues, it happens all the time right? Pitcher regularly go up and down between the majors and the minors, well Lester's case is different. He had just been called up to the majors July 27, 2006 after having a great season in the minor leagues. He made several starts and exactly a month after making his first start, he was scratched with a backache. This backache led to him being diagnosed with a treatable form of lymphoma after undergoing tests at Massachusetts General Hospital. By December of that year, the CT scans were showing that the cancer was in remission. He started again in the minor leagues in March with the Pawtucket Redsox and now nearly one year after making his first start he is back making his first start after his fight with cancer. This is truly an amazing story, especially considering that Lester is only 23 years old and has been so much in that young life.

On a slightly different note, I just saw on ESPN that Roger Goddell, the NFL commisioner, has told Micheal Vick that he is not to report to training camp with the Falcons until the NFL can make a determination in their investigation. I hope this leads to Vick being suspended for at least a year as no matter how involved he was with the dogfighting, he needs to be responsible for his actions. If, after the trial, it is found that he was not at all involved than he can return to the NFL and continue to make the millions that he is already making, but he needs to not be playing until the trial can be concluded and we know the extent to his involvement in the dogfighting.

Friday, July 20, 2007

YouTube Fridays

It is going to be a musical YouTube Fridays this week. Here is one of my favorite songs ever from Sesame Street, I can remember this on an album that I had growing up and just loving this song. It is James Taylor doing Jellyman Kelly

For something newer, here is Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge at the 2005 honoring Janis Joplin, simply amazing, IMHO.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How stupid are Fox viewers?

I was watching the Daily Show this afternoon (I had DVR'd it) and Matt Groening was on. He was so hilarious, but the best part is that he said that after The Simpsons had done an episode where they had the Fox News Crawl thingie across the bottom of their cartoon, they were banned from ever doing this again. Why would Fox ban the Simpsons from having the Fox News crawl thingie across the bottom of their screen with obviously fake and stupid headlines...wait for it....wait for it... because they were afraid that the Fox viewers would get confused and think that the Simpsons news crawl was real. That is the funniest thing I have heard in a while. If you don't believe me, here is the interview where Groening says this exact thing about Fox.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Small annoyances

I had some small annoyances today and I wanted to share them. First, I pulled up to a take out restaurant to get dinner as it was late and I didn't feel like cooking and I saw a woman disciplining her son. Ok so no big deal, she was not yelling at him or being verbally abusive, but... I saw them walk out of the restaurant and the little boy went to get a chair on the little patio they were now on and the mother told him to sit on the ground. Come on lady, let your child get into a chair already, i know you are not happy with him, but that is stupid to have him sit on the ground. Mainly because since she got on his level to talk to him (which is the way it should be done by the way, not hovering over the child), she also had to sit on the ground, be smart lady allow him into a chair so that you too can sit on a chair or at least not have to sit on the ground. Second, and this really was annoying, as I was waiting at a stop sign, this man pulled form across traffic to basically cut in front of me, well his wife/girlfriend whatever she was waved at me like thanks for letting me in. No lady, the asshat driving decided he was coming in and was an asshat about it so no don't fucking wave at me just sit there and let the asshat do his thing. Anyway, people are stupid as displayed by our Deceiver in chief.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein for President

This simian deserves all our votes for the next president of these here United States. He has good taste in geography and wears a fez, there should be no other requirements for president, well maybe intelligence and he has this as well so in November vote for the true Monkey.

Presidential Polls

So the AP is reporting that in recent polls, Republicans do not know who they are voting for, but Democrats seem to favor Hilary by a wide margin still. I would have to say that if I was a Republican I would not know who I was voting for either, as they all are pretty worthless candidates. The article also says that part of the issue with the Republicans is that the Christian evangelicals have not decided who to endorse. They see issues with Giuliani and his liberal stance on gay rights and abortion rights. McCain's campaign is falling apart as has been noted pretty much everywhere, so that got me thinking. Shouldn't Romney seem like the best candidates for these people? He has not had a divorce and supports many of the same issues they do as well and he is religious. I know that he has flip flopped on many of these issues, but isn't he now in agreement with them. I also know that he is a Mormon, but as a Jew, I just don't understand the fuss. He is still a Christian in my book, still believes Jesus was the son of God, so whats the issue?

Now on the more interesting thing for me. I seem to remember a certain whispering incident where two Democratic candidates were trying to exclude the other candidates from debates. Well, one of these individuals, Edwards, is not in the top two and is behind by 9 points to Obama. Shouldn't Edwards worry about Obama first, although this does make me somewhat happy? I kind of like Obama as a bit of an underdog, as I figure he is charismatic enough to just jump up and bite these two in the asses and win the nomination. Since these are the top three and so will probably be the ones who fight for the nomination unless we liberals can get out shit together and vote for the right man, Kucinich, I would much prefer to see Obama than Edwards or Hilary. Partly because as a bit of an outsider he may be able to do something good but also because I know that it would scare the living shit out of a whole helluva lotta people and that would be awesome in my book.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Earth Fare

Ok so I was going to do something more substantial, but I am getting tired so this will be a quick one. I have found an Earth Fare that is about 11 miles from me, so I am thinking that this weekend will be my first visit. This came about from a previous post.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rocky and Bullwinkle are at it again

I first saw this story here at Cap'n Dyke about the fact that Iran has arrested 14 squirrel under suspicion that they are spies for the west. Of course we have trained squirrels as spies, do the Iranians not watch Rocky and Bullwinkle?

My guess is that Natasha and Boris tipped off the Iranians.

Reason #3 to buy from farmers markets

I went to the local farmers market this morning and as I was buying my produce I learned something new. One of the sellers/farmers was commenting that Whole Foods had become very difficult to deal with as a seller. She said that for a while she was selling her produce to Whole Foods as a local purchasing agent would visit her farm and then buy what they needed. She said that that has since changed and now the only purchasing agent is in Atlanta and he is the only one that you can get a purchase order from. She said that after trying to call him six times, he finally answered her calls and then told her she had to take her produce to a warehouse about 10 miles away, she could not directly deliver the food to the supermarket. She was also told she had to deliver the food between 3 AM and 5 AM and when she got to the warehouse, she had to unload and stack all her own stuff separating it for each separate store. She then also had to shrink wrap the stuff and individually invoice each store. This is a small farm, it is just her and her husband and she felt like it had become too much of a hassle for them to try and deal with Whole Foods. Now this may have been just one farmer's experience with Whole Foods and may not be representative of all Whole Foods, but I still find this disturbing. Whole Foods says they want to support the local farmer and yet the methods that farmers have to go through to get their produce into the market seems to discourage small farmers from selling their produce to Whole Foods. This serves to again encourage corporate farms and discourage the small family farms. I still think that Whole Foods is a great alternative to probably any other supermarket, but am not convinced that it is the great supporter of the local farms like they claim.

Friday, July 13, 2007

YouTube Friday

This is a great speech. The amazing thing is that two months after Jimmy V. gave this speech he had passed away from the cancer he mentions. Truly an inspiring speech.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Children's books and violence

I was reading a version of the three little pigs to some of my students today and started to think about children's stories and the violence that is in them. This story had the wolf eating the pigs and finally the third pig boiling and eating the wolf. There is a version of little red riding hood where the wolf eats the grandmother and an axeman has to cut the wolf open to get granny out. Many of the stories by the Grimm Brothers are very grim (pun intended). These stories were written for adults and yet they are now common place in children's libraries and classrooms. It is amazing when you realize some of the things for children and where they originate, such as ring around the rosy is a reference to the Bubonic Plague and the mark on the skin from the plague. I am not advocating taking these stores and rhymes out of the classroom as I am 100% against censorship and think that children should be exposed to all kinds of literature and should be able to read whatever they want as they grow up. But when looking at the research that is done around violent behavior in children and violence in the media, it is interesting that we do not seem to see the same behaviors in children from books. This is my observation of being in classrooms, I do not have any real research that indicates that other forms of media create more violence in children and books do not. I also think about the cartoon that I knew growing up like Looney Tunes and the violence that was in that and yet I don't think that this hurt me in anyway, so then what is it that makes the violence that is in books and in Looney Tunes and other cartoons where the violence seems so exaggerated that seems so much less offensive than in the children's television like the Power Rangers? With adult guidance shouldn't we be able to minimize the affect of violence on our children and that is probably where the issues come up, the lack of adult guidance in children's lives. We need, as a society, to increase the adult guidace in children's lives through increased parental involvement with children, decreasing the amount of time children spend in front of the TV and finally high quality child care for all children not just those children that can afford it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vanity plates

I understand that some people like vanity plates and generally I have no problem with them, but I saw one this morning that I found very disturbing. On the plate it said "Sept11th", I am not sure if this was supposed to be a reminder or just showing their support for the victims. But I found this a bit disturbing, I have seen plenty of bumper stickers that are reminders or other thoughts on Sept. 11th, 2001, and those do not bother me, but this license plate seemed to be tactless and crude to me. The other surprising thing is that there were not a lot of other patriotic or political bumper stickers that I could see, just a small flag in the right, bottom corner of the rear window. It just seemed wrong somehow to me that this is what you wish your license plate to read.

National Service

This morning NPR had an interview with David Eisner who heads the Corporation for National and Community Service. This is the agency who oversees the national service programs here in the U.S. such as Americorps* VISTA, National Civilian Community Corps, Teach for America, and City Year among many other state and local programs. This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart as I did two years of national service in Delaware with Americorps* VISTA.

AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

Eisner talked about how there was a rise in national service after 9/11 and how there seems to be a bit of a decline in volunteerism five years later. Now there are several reasons for this, but the most important one is publicity. One of the only things that Bush has ever said that I agreed with was his emphasis on the importance of national service for our country. He mentioned this, in I believe a State of the Union address, which was very important to get the word out to the nation that there are ways that you can help in your own community. Well, this support has I am sure dwindled and there does not seem to be a strong national presence for national service. I worked in a high school for a bit when I first got to NC and there were no pamphlets or posters or other promotional materials for Americorps*. When I talked to the guidance counselors they had no idea what I was talking about and yet this is the prime age we should be targeting. There are many students who need to take a year or two off before they go to college and national service is a great option. There are students who cannot afford to go to college and again national service is a great option as after you finish your service you earn money toward college or to pay back loans or other educational expenses. Also, there does seem to be some recruitment on college campuses and since many of the programs are for after college than this is a great place to recruit, but again the publicity is not there to help people realize that they have these options and then look into them after college. We are bombarded by advertisements from the military all the time on TV, radio, billboards, in the hallways of schools, heck they send military recruiters into the high schools and colleges to talk to children and yet the fact that we do not do the same thing for other forms of national service is sad to me. The military is not for everyone, it wasn't for me, but I still wanted to give back to my country and my community and Americorps* gave me that opportunity.

I also wanted to address something else here, Eisner mentioned that he does not think that mandatory national service is a good idea. I totally disagree. I understand his point that right now these organizations are not totally prepared for this and that part of the bonds that develop between the individual who is volunteering and the community is the desire of the individual to be there, but how is someone to develop this interest if they are not given the opportunity to develop this bond. Also, I think that we should have mandatory national service and I would lump a lot of things into that, Americorps*, the military, and the Peace Corps. There are so many options between these three that certainly we could be able to spread out our resources and be able to better our world both domestically and abroad. I am not sure when this national service should be mandatory, but maybe between the ages of 18-25, you would have to give up one year of your life to help others. I know the volunteer organizations are not ready yet, but with some assistance and a large influx of people they could be made ready. There are certainly areas that were hit by Katrina that still need help and volunteers for a year rather than for a few weeks would make a great difference. There are so many urban areas that need people who will tutor students, help restore the rundown parts of towns, help make a real difference with poverty and I am sure a million other things that if everyone volunteered there would be things for everyone to do. This would not have to be an immediate thing, you could slowly phase it in over a ten year period, but it needs to happen if we are going to really be the change we wish to see in the world, to use Gandhi's idea.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Did you know?

Did you know that you could give Benadryl to a dog? I didn't, but the vet told me to get some for my dog. My dog needed to have a mass removed yesterday and the vet told me that I needed to get some antihistamines to make sure that he did not have a reaction. I guess you learn something new everyday.

I also wanted to say that I am very excited. Sid the Kid signed a five year extension with my Penguins and has the Stanley Cup as his goal, so helpfully we will get there this year with all of the other signings that they have done. GO PENS!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Impeach them already

I finally feel like I have to throw my two cents into this whole impeachment debate after reading two things. First, a great post by Phydeaux Speaks and an article in the magazine Tikkun (I would post this as well, but it is only available in the hard copy of the magazine and not online). The article in Tikkun interviews three different Congressmen, all of whom are democrats, about the issue of impeachment of the president or the VP. I am going to briefly highlight the interviews and then add my own thoughts. The first interview is with Dennis Kucinich who we all know has introduced the articles of impeachment for he who shall not be named and strongly feels we need to impeach these bastards already (my words not his). The next interview is with Jim Moran of VA. Moran feels that while these two have violated habeas corpus and Congress needs to step in to ensure that the prisoners at Guantanamo are being treated fairly, he also feels the the lack of co-sponsorship for either John Coyers articles of impeachment against Bush or Kucinich's against the other one, means they are doomed to failure. He said he signed onto both articles out of principle and believes that these two should be impeached, but is essentially scared of the media machine of the right and that they will say Congress is wasting our tax money. Finally, Mel Watt from my home state of NC is interviewed. He says that he feels that impeachment is a waste of Congress's time and that they should focus on other things like stronger oversight.

Now, Kucinich and Moran perfectly illustrate Phydeaux's first two types of people and their thoughts on impeachment. Kucinich wants to get rid of Bush and Co., while Moran is afraid of the backlash from this attempt, although he says he would support it. Watt is the interesting one here in my opinion. He fits in another category that Phydeaux doesn't mention, the Democrat, who like Traitor Joe, has totally and utterly gone over to the dark side (excuse the Star Wars reference) and is now attempting to protect the president and his interests, but also appear to still be a good Democrat by saying he may not vote to extend the money for the war, but he does understand others moral conflict over the issue.

Since Kucinich has introduced this resolution to impeach Cheney, we need to make our Congressmen realize that they need to follow through on this. Whether the president or vice president ever are impeached is a separate issue, they need to realize that they will be accountable for their actions. This administration has been able to do as they please with no one holding them accountable, isn't that the job of the Legislative branch to act as a check-and-balance for the Executive branch as outlined in our Constitution? Shouldn't we expect our Congress to hold the Executive branch accountable for what they say and do? I didn't agree with the impeachment hearing for Clinton, but wasn't he impeached for lying? Haven't Cheney and Bush lied much more than Clinton and about something that is so much more important than a stain on a dress, the deaths of thousands on troops and innocent civilians? Moran says that the Democrats are not as extreme as the Republicans and that explains why Clinton was impeached and Bush and Co. haven't been. Well, then maybe what we need is more radical Democrats, ones who aren't afraid of the Republicans and Fox News, Democrats who are willing to stand up for their own beliefs and the wishes of their constituents, and Democrats who are willing to take on the hard fight even if it means losing the support of those that don't support them anyway. That is where the Republicans win over the Democrats every time, they have a strong base who may be radical, but will vote on their core issues and will force those issues to be addressed. We need a Democratic party that pushes more to the left and forces its issues to be discussed not just the issues of the opposition.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

It was a good day

It was as good day today.

* I took the dog to the vet, no problems
* I found a bagel place (this is a big find for me as a Yankee Jew who loves his bagels)
* I found a Trader Joe's and the Whole Foods Market
* I found a framed picture of Marilyn Monroe at Barnes and Nobles (I have a small crush on Marilyn)

Overall, I pretty good day so far and it isn't even over yet.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I watched Transamerica tonight (I know, I know I am a bit behind), it was a great movie. I had wanted to see it for a while, but I am a bit conscious of what movies I rent at times here in the South. It was so interesting to see a woman (Felicity Huffman) playing a man playing a woman, essentially. Felicity Huffman was amazing. As I was watching it and even before I started it I intended to post about Transamerica, but when i finished it I found it difficult to post about. I was going to post about how when they showed Felicity Huffman's "penis" and how that is so rare in "R" rated films. You can show female nudity and can get away with it rather easily with an R rating or even a PG or PG-13 rating depending if you show full frontal nudity or just breasts, but then there were scenes with full frontal male nudity, although brief, later in the film so that meant I couldn't make as big a deal about the first shot. So I started thinking, does that mean that the inherent male bias toward female nudity in movies will begin to decrease? Will there be more male nudity without the automatic NC-17 rating? I really don't care if it is male nudity or female nudity (although as a heterosexual male, I do prefer the female nudity), if it is necessary for the film to progress and is not gratuitous then I think we should be able to show it on film. I feel much more strongly that we need to limit violence in films more than sex and nudity. The fact that the MPAA is more likely to rate a film more severely for nudity than violence is just disgusting to me. According to this site, the research on the effects of media violence and children's behavior is mixed with some research showing that it negatively affects children's behavior and some research showing that it does not seem to have that strong an effect on children's behavior. I still would stand by my opinion that in the long run children are more negatively affected by viewing violence in the media than viewing nudity or sex, when the nudity and/or sex is not gratuitous and has relevance to the story being told. There is no time, in my opinion, that violence needs to be shown for a story to be told. I am honestly not trying to be a prude about violence in films, there are many films that I really like that include violence and at times graphic violence such as The Professional or Ronin, but I am an adult and can differentiate between TV and reality, where as children may not be able to make that connection.

Ok, so that was a bit of a tangent, back to Transamerica. I really intended to blog about the positive message in a movie like Transamerica, where the lead character is transsexual and this is not treated as a disease or something is wrong with the character. Although this is very true in this movie, I also felt like that was just part of the character, that the movie was more about the relationship between a parent and child and learning to accept yourself. So I guess that is also very positive, the person's impending sex change operation was not treated as a major character flaw, but a fact of life that some people have to go through to end up feeling comfortable with themselves. It kind of reminds me of another favorite movie I have not seen in a while, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Which is another great film, although this time about transvestites and not transsexuals, but still in both movies the main characters have an "alternative" lifestyle and yet that is just part of the character and not a stereotypical they have problems and so how can they be made normal again.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Eddie Izzard

Ok so Eddie Izzard is fucking brilliant in all of his stand up comedy and I actually like him in The Riches, so... I had to post this interview with Jon Stwart he did a few months ago. Also, this is the single greatest segue way I have ever seen, from Cornwallis to Itunes.

YouTube Fridays

Here are two cartoons from my childhood, yeah I know I am young. They were copies of Thudercats after it got popular. If you do not know Thundercats, well then by all means go check it out on YouTube as well.

Here is Tiger Sharks or Thundercats with sharks.

Here is Silver Hawks or Thundercats in space with metallic birds of prey.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Billy Bragg on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Ok so I saw this on Blue Gal and decided to post it as well, but it is good. I had heard of Billy Bragg, but didn't really know his music. I am glad I found this song and now will look for other stuff by him.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


I had to work today, yes it is the Fourth, but I had a training on diversity that I had to go through for my new job. I found out that I have a new pet peeve. As I was sitting in the training, the trainers ha to read much of what the training was about as we had to be said word for word what was written. First, I hate this, I can read if that is how a training has to go just give me the materials and I will read them myself, I do not need someone to read to me. But also the trainers mispronounced a few words and that annoyed me for some reason. The words were not even that uncommon, well, one was paradigm which was pronounced para-dim rather than para-dime which maybe i can understand but the other word was subtle pronounced sub-til. Yes the person pronounced the "b" in subtle. This just kind of annoyed me. Anyway, I guess that is want I get for liking to read and hence knowing the pronunciations of words that I read.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

You can be anything...well maybe anything

I was thinking about how the cultural patriarchy that exists within our culture affects our children. The fact that we value men over women and boys over girls is so prevalent in our culture that we do not even think about it, from the language we use to the advertising on TV. If you want to see more about these issues check out Figleaf who discusses the language surrounding sex and relationships and the constant misogyny or Shakesville where you can normally find a post or more about the detriment to our society that this way of thinking provides.

I want to look at how we tell our little girls they can be anything, we encourage them to be policewomen, fire women, even president of the US. Now I would argue if we really mean that they can be any or all of these things especially president as I am sure that Hilary will not have a chance to win this year as the patriarchy will not allow her to win, but that is another point. We also encourage them to be homemakers or teachers or whatever they want, but what about the boys. We automatically tell them at times even explicitely that their career choices are limited to working in an office, a fireman, a policeman or some other "manly" job. But what if they want to be a ballet dancer or a house husband. (I use these examples because I have seen teachers discouargae little boys from exploring these areas). Men are not supposed to be able to clean or cook or like to do things that are supposed to be more feminine. But the one that kills me and this is almost literally, is being a teacher. We discourage our little boys from being a teacher especially of young children. We accept if they want to teach in middle school or high school as of course they can also be a sports coach so that is OK, but what if they want to teach younger children. What if they want to teach preschool children like I do, what then. I know I get enough strange looks when I tell people I teach Pre-K. They look at me like what is wrong with you, you must be a pedophile or gay (because of course if you are gay you are basically a woman anyway, right). The other response I get is "oh that is so great, these children need more male teachers." Now that may be genuine and sometimes I think it is but that is still a stupid thing to say. We wouldn't say, "now isn't that nice the world needs more women doctors". So then why is it acceptable to say that men teachers are somehow not just teachers and we are men first and teachers second. I also see this happening with male receptionists, airline attendants and nurses where somehow these men are less manly because of their career choice.

Finally, I am not trying to argue that the patriarchy hurts boys more than it hurts girls because well that is just stupid and obviously wrong, what I am trying to argue is that this patriarchy hurts both boys and girls. We need to encourage every child to explore and figure out what makes them the happiest in their lives whether it is being a teacher or a fire person or working in an office.

Monday, July 2, 2007


I wanted to tag along with everybody else and say a welcome back to Melissa and the whole crew over at Shakesville. Also while you are there make a donation to help de-fray the costs. I mean all the cool kids are doing it, shouldn't you.

Dog owners

I had this whole other post I was going to make until i got home. I got back from walking my dog, a boxer of course, and the women who lives in the apartment beside mine had her dog out, a small dog, not sure of the breed and not on a leash. Anyway, so Logan perks his ears up and starts to pull a bit on the leash. I restrain him and tell him no, he is still a bit perked up but has calmed down and is heading to the door to go in. Well my neighbor's dog begins to charge at Logan and me and so she heads her dog off and slowly chases her dog away from the door. As I am entering my apartment, she gives me this dirty look, like aren't you in yet and your dog is such an annoyance. Now, I hope I was misinterpreting her look and that she was annoyed at something else, but still that is how I saw it. So this got me thinking how owners of small dogs tend to be very protective of their dogs and how somehow my dog who is bigger will I guess eat or somehow harm their dog. Anyway, he is just curious and has actually been nipped by several smaller dogs because he was being too friendly and sniffed the smaller dog. I started to think how all small dog owners are annoying and that bigger dogs are so much better and then I realized how untrue that is. I know plenty of people who have small dogs and are great owners and who correct their dogs. I also know plenty of people with big dogs who let their dogs run free and have no control over them. So basically I am annoyed at people who are not responsible dog owners and do not know how to control their dogs and so give those of us who do try to control our dogs a bad name. That was a bit of a rambling post, but still... if you have a dog know how to control it whether it is big or little and please please please clean up its poop when you are out.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wheelchair accessibility

I went to Baltimore this last weekend with a friend of mine who happens to be in a wheelchair. He has a conversion van with a lift so that he can be taken places. Because of the distance from our state of residence to Baltimore, we got a hotel. He is a huge Orioles fan and so we thought it would be fun to stay at one of the hotels that are right beside the stadium since we were going to two games and it would make it easier before and after games. So we get to the hotel and there is valet parking, but of course the garage is only large enough the allow vehicles which are 6'8" or under to enter and his van is around 8' high. We park in the unloading zone, check in and I take the stuff up to the room and get him situated, since I am not sure about the parking situation with the van. I had already moved the van out of the way of the unloading zone where it wouldn't block traffic. I go downstairs hoping to be able to just leave the van where it is even though there are signs that say no parking, but I am thinking that since the van will not fit in the garage maybe they will let us this time. I talk to the parking valet and he says it is not in his way, but that I have to talk to the manager. I no more than say that is my van and he says I have to move it (quite rudely). I explain that my friend is in a wheelchair and we need access to the van and that it is out of the way. He tells me he will have to have it towed if it is left there as it is in a tow away zone. I politely ask him where I can park the van where it will be close. He suggests that I move it to a lot that is nearby for one of the smaller arenas in the area. This does not work as with other lots where you cannot leave vehicles over night and so after an hour and a half of driving around Baltimore, I finally find a lot over by the Inner Harbor where I can leave the van overnight.

The point of this is twofold, first and quickly, I was nice throughout the entire conversation with the manager. I didn't scream or cuss or threaten or anything. I listened to him, I tried to explain my points and then when he was adamant I asked for his help, all very politely. I realize now that was a mistake. I should have screamed and cussed and threatened to sue the pants off of him and the entire Marriott chain. He may have given in this way, he may not have, but at least there is probably a better chance that he would have given in if I was causing a ruckus. And whether he had given in or not, I am sure that at some point he would have referred to me as an asshole or jerk or whatever, but why does it seem that those people who are the most obnoxious, annoying, loud mouthed jerks always seem to get things done. We say that we want people to be polite and that you get more by being nice, but it doesn't always seem to work that way.

Ok so on to my second point, how is this hotel, and hell I saw a lot of hotels who had underground garages that were not accessible for conversion vans, able to deny parking to people in wheelchairs. They have to have accessible rooms and elevators and ramps and even automated doors so that they do not discriminate against individuals with a disability, but they do not have to have parking. That makes no sense to me, so I went to the website on the Americans with Disabilities Act and this phrase seems to sum it up for me:

i) Denial of participation

It shall be discriminatory to subject an individual or class of individuals on the basis of a disability or disabilities of such individual or class, directly, or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements, to a denial of the opportunity of the individual or class to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of an entity.

This hotel and others like it are denying individuals with a van for those in a wheelchair not only the ability to park at their hotel, but also the valet service. Now I can understand not being able to park in the garage as there are certain restrictions, but the hotel should have to have alternative accommodations for special circumstances. We did call the corporate headquarters of Marriott and were told basically oh well not our problem, the parking garage is not owned by Marriott(meanwhile their guests are the only ones allowed in this garage) and parking on the street would get me towed. I remind you, I was not parked on the street I was parked on Marriott property in an out of the way part of the unloading zone for the hotel.

I guess I learned my lesson. Corporations are worthless asshats (yeah ok so i knew that one already but still) and being nice gets you nowhere.